Leading European Electoral Candidates Meet With Armenian Community

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For Immediate Release
May 14th, 2004
Contact: Talline Tachdjian
Tel.: +32 (0)2 732 70 27


Lyon, France – On May 9th, the leading candidates for the European
Parliament elections from the southeast region of France addressed
the topic of Turkey’s accession to the European Union during a Europe
Day event organized by the Armenian National Committee of France and
the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

Speaking at the event held at the Bourse du Travail in Lyon were
Thierry Cornillet (Union of French Democrats), GĂ©rard Benhamias
(Greens), and Patrick Louis (Union for France). The debate was
moderated by France Inter Radio journalist Frederic Bourgade, with
participation of Franck Bianchieri from Think Tank Europe 2002 and
Hilda Tchoboian from the European Armenian Federation. Absent due
to the launching of their parties’ electoral campaigns, Françoise
GrossetĂȘte (Union for the Presidential Majority) and Michel Rocard
(Socialist Party) issued filmed statements.

Franck Bianchieri commented on the growing concern and opposition to
Turkey’ s accession that he noticed during the debates he moderated
in 100 European cities. Before an attentive audience of more than
a thousand attendees, Thierry Cornillet and Patrick Louis declared
their official opposition to Turkey’s accession for geographical,
cultural and demographic reasons, promising to uphold this position
when they are elected to the European Parliament. Likewise, Françoise
GrossetĂȘte, whose party recently made a dramatic shift in position on
the issue, favored a privileged partnership status for Turkey. From
the left, GĂ©rard Benhamias from the Greens party stated that in his
opinion we should quickly integrate Turkey and that we should trust
the Turkish democrats to improve the Human Rights situation as well
as recognize the Armenian Genocide, which should result from the
country’s democratisation.

Expressing his viewpoint, Michel Rocard discussed the strategic
importance of Turkish accession because of Turkey’s ethnic and
cultural links with Turkish-speaking countries of central Asia that
have oil reserves from which Europe could benefit; according to him,
the recognition of the Armenian Genocide would naturally come when
Turkey would feel “ridicule” for its denial.

Hilda Tchoboian recalled that it is since the European Parliament
began the examination of Turkey’s candidacy in 2000 that it started
to consider the genocide and blockade issues, at the urging of the
European Armenian Federation. Recalling the Morillon and Lamassoure
reports, she denounced the inconsistencies between the declaration of
parties opposed to Turkish accession and their refusal to speak firmly
and truthfully to Turkey in the European Parliament annual reports.

Regarding the positions of the Left, Tchoboian refuted the exemplary
nature of Turkey’s accession for the Muslim world, because of Turkey’s
poor relations with its Arab neighbours. She also denounced the
argument of secularism, which in Turkey is not based on plurality and
on the separation of religion and State, but on the Turkish State’s
protection of the Muslim religion, which became the majority religion
after the extermination of Turkey’s non-Muslim citizens.

“If Europe does not require Turkey to adhere to its values as a
pre-condition to its accession, Europe will be forced to integrate
Turkey’s denialist values, and to give free rein to the denial of
other genocides,” affirmed the Chairperson of the European Armenian

She emphasized that beyond a formal recognition, Europe must bring
about Genocide reparations, requiring in particular that Turkey give to
Armenia and to Armenian people guarantees of security. “Turkey must
promise to abolish its aggressive policy towards Armenia; this policy
is not the act of a regime, but rather follows from a State doctrine
that has continued under military, civil and Islamist regimes,”
concluded Tchoboian.

Concluding the first portion of the event, Georges Kepenekian declared
that Armenians would remain watchful, and would not give parties carte
blanche regarding matters that remain at the centre of attention
for European citizens. The second portion of the event included a
concert by the band Bratsch.



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